Saturday, February 23, 2008

What is a "bobber"?

Ok. I'll ask the question. What is a "bobber"? The term is used quite a bit these days and seems to have lost some meaning. I was in my local Harley dealership today and heard a customer say to his friend, "Hey that's the new Harley bobber." Huh? How can it be a "new" bobber? The bike they were referring to is the new Cross Bones. A Softail Springer with flat paint and some vintage inspired ideas, but a bobber? So what is a bobber? I have my own opinion as do the other Wing Nuts, but we have some pretty similar ideas. It seems to me that anything that is a budget built bike these days is called a bobber. I tend to feel this is used way too liberally. To me a bobber is a rigid framed, stripped down utilitarian motorcycle. It should be no newer than the mid 1950's and for the most part it should have parts removed, not added. Let me know what you think.

Flathead Jedd

9 comments:

trunty said...

I agree, pretty much a "rat rod" motorcycle.

Jan said...

Interesting discussion. I'don't know if I fully agree with Jedd, but one thing is for sure: "before choppers, there was bobbers".
For the rest, everybody may have his or her own view of what a bobber really is. In addition, the meaning of a word may change over the years.

In my own humble opinion, a bobber is a standard motorcycle, whether sprung or hardtail, of which the owner has removed parts which do not contribute to speed.
If you remove ALL parts which do not contribute to speed, I'd say you've got a hadcore bobber or bare bobes bobber.

Until the mid 1950's, Harleys had rigid frames, so those first and original flathead, knucklehead and panhead bobbers should have rigid frames too.
Ironeads and Shovelhead bobbers may have sprung frames.

Many people like to recreate that 1950's style by modifying their sprung frame to a hardtail. I think this is where the term "oldschool" jumps in to make things even more complicated...

Regarding the Harley Cross Bones I feel the same sentiments as Flathead Jedd: that can't be a bobber. If only for the fact that bobbers are created in sheds, not in factories!

Keep ridin' !
Jan
info at ironhead-bobbers dot com

ez said...

*I'm a new rider... is a bobber a good bike to start off on? IYO.

2weelz said...

I have to agree with the original statement with the exception that it must be mid '50's or older. I'm mid 50's vintage myself and it was always my understanding that the term "bobber" is extremely simple to understand. It is any motorcycle that has had just about everything removed ('bobbed') that does not need to be there to make it go, or stop. Another way to put it might be the concept that, if something fell off my scoot while going down the road, and I didn't miss it, then it didn't need to be there in the first place! That's a bobber... Mine?...it's a garage built 1977 rigid Ironhead Sportster that I put together and it is ridden year round (in New Hampshire). ...Pics on request...

Drew said...

I agree with some statements about "ratrods" to bobbers. but it is good that they are using vintage style modeling. and the bobber is now used for a sales tactic more than the meaning which is major issue. so i agree do not call any bikes bobbers in less they truely are

-DrewMc

CHURCH! said...

A bobber in my eyes is something chopped down, lighter faster and louder than usual looks way cool and of course something that you can bob and weave on! almost got mine done and don't regret one penny spent! CHURCH!

Anonymous said...

After the 2nd WW, there were tons of surplus Harleys up into the 60s. And were used hard, you could by them cheap from Sunny's surplus. So any way you beat em to death, then part them out .

Russell Banks said...

Every bike I've seen referred to as a "bobber" has front and back wheels and tyres the same size

Russell Banks said...

Every bike I've seen referred to as a "bobber" has front and back wheels and tyres the same size